When you’re just venturing into an admin career, and an older, wiser admin imparts advice, it tends to stick with you. Perhaps you know someone who would benefit from the same gesture.
A few bits of career counsel from Lilit Marcus’ Save the Assistants: A guide to surviving and thriving in the workplace:
√ Know the difference between a job and a career.
“A job is something you do to get money and pay your bills. A career is the overall path that your working life takes. You should be more focused on the latter than the former,” Marcus says. “Do not walk into your first job expecting it to be your ideal career—a career is something you have to work toward.”
On the darkest days of your job, think about how what you’re doing right now will get you closer to the career you want. Every job is vital, so don’t take it for granted.
√ Do your job, and do it really, really well.
“Don’t just make coffee—make the best damn coffee anybody in the office has ever tasted,” she says. What better way to show your talent than by nailing every single project you’re assigned, no matter how small?
√ Pay your dues intelligently. Network like crazy. Update your résumé with every new skill you gain. Be a student and take note of how your industry works.
√ Learn everybody’s name and develop the right allies. For example:
• The receptionist. “Because you want to make sure that when an important package arrives for you or your boss, you’ll get it immediately,” says Marcus. And when your boss’s client is coming in from out of town for a special meeting, the receptionist can make sure they get VIP treatment.
• The janitor/cleaning crew. When you spill coffee all over the lobby, you’ll need these folks to help you clean it up before anyone notices.
• The veteran. This could be a senior assistant or the one with the longest tenure. In any case, she’s the one who ends up helping, supporting and mentoring new hires. Says Marcus, “Think of Joan Holloway from ‘Mad Men.’”